Following the play by play in the Brexit negotiations is a bit like watching a game of table tennis. Follow along too closely and you’re likely to get a headache.
And if anyone has a headache over the latest constitutional crisis, it’s Prime Minister Theresa May.
May’s Brexit plans have again been thrown into disarray after the Speaker of parliament ruled that she could not put her EU divorce deal to a new vote unless it was significantly altered.
Speaker John Bercow caught May’s office off-guard with comments that made clear how parliamentary precedent precluded a third attempt at passing the same bill.
May’s bill has been defeated twice already, once in January and again last week.
Bercow’s ruling now has Britain on a knife edge with some Brexiteers seeking a comprehensive split with the EU via a ‘no-deal’ exit.
Others believe May will push back the 29 March departure date, if the EU approves.
Solicitor General Robert Buckland believes, ‘We’re in a major constitutional crisis here.’
Speaking to the BBC he said that prorogation, or ending the parliament session early, could be a way to bring May’s deal back to the House of Commons.
Precedents that reach back to 1604 and which establish the rules of parliament say that substantially similar proposals are not allowed to be voted on more than once in the same session, RAW reports.
He added on Monday that his ruling is not necessarily his final word and that the government could bring forward a new deal, provided it was not the same as the two that have already been shot down.
Brexit to be delayed?
The pound fell against the euro and US dollar when Bercow’s statement was released, but subsequently recovered when the government said that it was continuing with negotiations with reticent Northern Ireland MPs, who prop up May’s minority government.
Bercow said, ‘this is my conclusion: if the government wishes to bring forward a new proposition that is neither the same, nor substantially the same as that disposed of by the house on the 12th of March, this would be entirely in order.’
He continued saying, ‘What the government cannot legitimately do is to resubmit to the House the same proposition or substantially the same proposition as that of last week which was rejected by 149 votes.’
Meanwhile a Brexit minister, Kwasi Kwarteng has told parliament that the government plans to go for an extension to the departure date and that he believes the EU will decide on at a summit this week.
The man behind the 2016 referendum campaign, Matthew Elliot thinks that MPs will, ‘see sense’ and pass the prime minister’s deal by 29 March.
Hard-line Brexiteers were pleased with Bercow’s ruling as it increases the chance that the UK will leave the EU without a deal.
They think that May’s deal was soft, and did not provide any lasting separation between the country and the technocrats in Brussels.
It’s anyone’s guess how all this will play out, but The Australian Tribune suspects that this will most likely drag on beyond 29 March. This would benefit the EU, as the longer the chaos continues, the less likely it is the UK will actually break from the organisation.
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